December 2014- January 2015

"Improving upon our Previous Best"


The SI Bulletin: to provide regular, timely information to increase the shared understanding of our team of School Improvement professionals

Our shared purpose: to increase collective leadership capacity to understand what effective schools and districts know and do, and to support the leaders to own their improvement process

Previous Editions of The Bulletin

This Month

We are combining, due to the holidays, the December and January editions of The Bulletin. So, look for the next one to come out in early February.

Don't miss the great information below! And we truly hope that your holidays are full of peace, rest, reflection, and rejoicing!

Need a short video explaining Milestones? Try:

from Professional Learning (Joann Hooper & Christy Jones)

Professional Learning Standard 4: Cultivates collaborative inquiry and learning that enhances individual and collective performance.

The Professional Learning Unit is working to increase collaboration inside and outside of the department. The team meetings and job-a-likes are planned to give time for individuals to collaborate with those who work with schools in the same capacity. During this time strategies, tools, and resources can be shared and best practices identified. The Region teams give structured time for SISs in the same geographical areas to meet and plan their work for schools. This is an opportunity for teams to discuss how they can most effectively work with schools to help them enhance their capacity to increase student learning.

The PL unit meets regularly with other internal units at the department. These meetings include federal programs, special education, curriculum and instruction, and accountability. During these meetings we discuss what is happening in each unit and how our PL work coordinates with others. We share ideas for ways we can support each other and the schools we serve. We discuss having a common language and common tools to use in the schools we serve so they hear a consistent message. Recently we began a new association with Learning Forward Georgia. We attended one of their meetings and have plans to work with them in the near future on other projects.

As you work with your job-a-like teams, region teams, schools, and districts you are encouraged to look for collaborative opportunities that will increase your own knowledge and performance and that of the department.

SI-PL Meeting in December 16-17

At our December meeting we will look at school performance data and SGPs. We have a new website being constructed and will get your input. We will also have a presentation by Dr. David Hill on the new PSC certification and PLU rulings. Be ready for some powerful sessions.

February 2-3 ILA

In February we will have our winter ILA session. During this meeting we will continue our work with curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Sessions will delve deeper into these areas of instructional leadership and provide tools which can be taken back and used in the schools. The participants will choose to attend two sessions out of the five topics being offered during the day.

Summer is Coming

This year Summer Leadership Academy will be June 9- 10 or June 11-12. Our overarching theme is: Building a System of Academic Success: the Transformation Process. There will be more information soon.

Strategy of the Month

Each month we’ll provide a PL strategy that could be used with adults or students. Our goal is to deepen learning and engage the learner.

Title: Roll and Reflect


Here's a reflection question generator and dice that can help participants express their responses. Both the generator and dice use QR codes and serendipity to call up reflection questions and avenues for responding.


From Tony Vincent:

When it’s time for participants to reflect on a presentation, lesson, unit, activity, or project, have them scan the Reflection Question card. One of over 25 reflection questions will appear each time the question card is scanned. You don't need to scan the code to get a random question. You can simply go to this link: The QR code sends you to that URL.

The dice (which you will cut out, fold, and glue) has five options and one free choice to help participants express their responses with partners or groups. Options include drawing the response, making the response rhyme, and creating a visual quote. Each code on the dice leads to a helpful mobile-friendly resource for that option.

Intended Audience:

Students or Adults


from Technical Assistance & Support (Paulette Richmond, Cindy Popp, & Gary Wenzel)

GaDOE staff – please copy Will Rumbaugh on all DTicket emails. Please remember to use and NOT Help Desk.

Save the Date

December 5, 2014 (10am)

· IT Support Webinar. Topics will include Zoho, Prezi, MS templates, MS Office defaults, Help Desk vs DTicket and some general IT issues and tips. Please reference the November 17 email from Cindy Popp for the link to register for the webinar.

Title I, Part A, 1003(a) School Improvement Funding

Thank you for working collectively and collaboratively (school, district, SIS, GaDOE, RESA) to determine allowable and reasonable use of the 1003(a) school improvement funds. We appreciate your efforts and time.

Consider this …

WHAT. Our expectations. What was accomplished?

- Districts and schools have submitted documentation to indicate how Title I, Part A, 1003(a) school improvement funding will be spent to improve teaching and learning in Title I schools designated as Priority, Focus and Alert.

- School improvement plans have been uploaded in Indistar for Title I schools designated as Priority, Focus and Alert.

SO WHAT. What does this mean to us (school, district, SIS, GaDOE, RESA) in terms of SI work and future planning?

NOW WHAT. How do we (school, district, SIS, GaDOE, RESA) sustain ongoing, monthly dialogue related to the allowable and reasonable use of 1003(a) SI funds and the continuous plan for improvement?

Just for RESA School Improvement Specialists

ANSWER FROM LAST MONTH’S TRIVIA: How many total focus schools are currently being served by RESA Specialists? Answer: 146.

Kristy Kueber-Pope provided the first response. Thanks Kristy.

TRIVIA #2: In what document is this standard located AND what is the intent of the standard?

- Ensures that teachers have a shared understanding of expectations for standards, curriculum, assessment and instruction.

There’s a prize for the first person who texts the correct response and your name to

Jot Form Monthly Report. Due December 15, 2014 (one cumulative report per RESA).

INDISTAR. January 2015 due dates for Focus Schools (Part 2).

Focus Implementation Plans-- plan tasks for 6 indicators (1-30-15)

Performance Review Reports (Focus Schools only)-- 1-30-15

Thank you for your patience and flexibility over the past month.

from the Leads (Bari Geeslin, Lead)

‘Tis the season; you know, football season. No matter what your preference, from those who Rise Up to those who Roll Tide, a football analogy is quite appropriate at this time of year. During SEDL’s Supporting High-Quality Education Conference, featured speaker Dr. Chuck Benigno, Superintendent, Laurel Mississippi School District, provided a unique insight in his presentation, “Leadership: A Game of Inches”.

Dr. Benigno’s analogy compared education excellence and survival to schools striving for steady progress by attaining another first down or by relying on a “Hail Mary” without an interception. Like those who coach football, School Improvement Specialists (SISs) provide focused support so schools can get to that sustaining next first down. Focused support comes most often in the form of specific feedback, and you know what they say, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Sometimes the school needs just a few inches; sometimes it needs several yards.

School Improvement Specialists help leaders by focusing feedback on best practices that are sustainable; SISs persistently check to see how much more is needed to get that next first down. While many schools are focused on the fame and glory that comes with ‘winning the game’ or as they would say, “Getting off ‘the list’,” School Improvement Specialists aim to help schools own their own processes so schools perform at the top of their divisions, year after year. ‘Tis the season: that wonderful season in education when we get to enjoy yet another ‘new year’ within our school year. On behalf of the SI Leads, we hope you have time to relax and enjoy the blessings that come with the season. Be it family or football, we hope you enjoy the close of 2014 and wish you a healthy, fulfilling and successful 2015.

from District Effectiveness (Sam Taylor)

· The DE staff working in Dougherty Count Schools continue to work on the district’s Strategic Planning process, establishing effective HR processes, and working with external content experts on curriculum and assessment revisions (and applicable professional learning). The team meets with the Superintendent and his core team every quarter.

· The GAPSS team is working with Nicholas Handville to develop an on-going GAPSS data collection process which in turn will drive SI PL for the department and for school and district leaders.

· On Nov. 20, DE team members working in Bibb presented the results of the 13 GAPSS conducted in October to the Superintendent and Cabinet and the local Board of Education.

· The DE Team has completed a draft district review process. It is pending approval and will be field-tested in selected districts in the upcoming months.

· DE Team members completed the first quarter monitoring SIG process with the Leads. This collaborative work continues to focus not only on school compliance but district support and the quality of the SIG implementation.

from SIG (Patty Rooks & Lyndsay Moses)

Cohort 3 (July 1, 2013-September 30, 2016)

Bibb County Matilda Hartley Elementary School

Westside High School

Fulton County Frank McClarin High School

Gwinnett County Meadowcreek High School

Quitman County Quitman County High School

Twiggs County Twiggs County High School

Wilkinson County Wilkinson County High School

Cohort 4 (July 1, 2014-September 30, 2017)

Atlanta Public Schools Frederick Douglass High School

Bibb County Southwest Magnet High School and Law Academy

Dougherty County Dougherty County Comprehensive High School

Monroe Comprehensive High School

Muscogee County Fox Elementary School

Jordan Vocational High School

William H. Spencer High School

Fiscal Reminders

With the closeout of FY14 funds on October 31st, and completion reports now submitted, Cohort 3 and Cohort 4 schools are operating solely with FY2015 funding. As the end of first semester is close at hand, our SIG schools should be well into the implementation of this year’s initiatives.

In order to maximize the impact of the resources provided by the grant, all equipment, supplies and materials to be purchased with this year’s SIG funds should now be purchased and in the schools. In addition, the drawdown for the expenditures for these resources should have occurred by November 20th. It was also expected that funds for all SIG salaries and associated benefits for the months of July, August, September and October be drawn from the state no later than the November drawdown, as well. The second LEA and SEA quarterly monitoring should reflect the level to which these expectations have been met.


In order to accommodate the fiscal timelines of some of our LEAs, the monthly deadline for drawdowns has been moved from the 15th of each month to the 20th. It is expected that the drawdown include all SIG expenditures from the previous month. It is important to note that the timeliness of drawdowns is a critical factor when considering the recommendation for continued funding.

Cross-Functional Monitoring:

With the exception of Gwinnett County and Muscogee County, all Cohort 3 and Cohort 4 SIG districts will receive a Cross-Functional monitoring this year, which will include fiscal monitoring for 1003(g) SIG. A monitoring schedule for the SIG districts will be provided in the February Bulletin.

LEA Monitoring of SIG Schools

As noted last month, this year LEAs with SIG Cohort 3 and/or Cohort 4 schools will be responsible for submitting four (4) LEA Monitoring Reports in Indistar for each of their SIG schools. The format and content of the monitoring report has been revised to allow the SIG Coordinator, in collaboration with key leaders at the district level, to assess the level of progress of the LEA/school in implementing the SIG indicators.

The electronic LEA Monitoring Report forms can be accessed from the District Dashboard and are to be completed and submitted within Indistar. The Q1 LEA Monitoring Report was to have been submitted by September 30th. The remaining three monitoring reports are due November 30th, January 30th, and April 30th, respectively.

In the event that an indicator is either not progressing at an expected rate or not evident, an interim or “follow-up” LEA monitoring of those indicators is required and submitted in Indistar utilizing the appropriate LEA Monitoring Report “follow-up” form. If all indicators are either progressing at an expected rate or fully implemented, completion and submission of the “follow-up” Monitoring Report form is not required.

2014-2015 Reward Incentive Plan

The 2014-2015 Reward Incentive Plans are in the process of being reviewed for approval. Please be reminded that the process by which the 2014-2015 Reward Incentive Plan was determined, as well as the notification of the GaDOE approved Plan to the school staff, should be documented by the schools within Indistar. This documentation should be reviewed during the second and third SEA and LEA quarterly monitoring.

Critical Dates for 1003(g) SIG Schools

Ø November 30th—Q2 LEA Monitoring Report submission due in Indistar

Ø December 20th—Monthly drawdown by LEA’s due for all SIG expenses (including salaries & benefits) encumbered to date

Ø January 20th--Monthly drawdown by LEA’s due for all SIG expenses (including salaries & benefits) encumbered to date

Ø January 30th—Q3 LEA Monitoring Report submission due in Indistar

Indistar (Celeta Thomas)

Training has been completed for districts and schools. As you work in your schools please help them understand how Indistar should be a part of their work and not a separate “thing”. On the Indistar site the drop box has been linked for easy access to resources and tools. Please assist schools in using this as needed. It is a valuable resource which will answer many questions they may have. Wise Ways is another resource that will help schools as they assess indicators, assign tasks, and decide on artifacts and evidence.

Remember, when asking for changes to Indistar indicators, the request must be made to your Lead or me. A request cannot be made to Indistar directly.

from the Literature

Two interesting blurbs are below. The first has some reminders about how adults learn best, the second about what is being learned about leaders in turnaround environments. Great information to chew on!

1. Adult Learning

In the book, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, the National Research Council describes a typology of learning environments that may support practice-based teacher learning including deliberate practice (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000). Based on case studies of teacher learning, the council concludes that teachers learn better when environments are more:

Learner-centered. Learning environments that build on the individual strengths, interests, and needs of the learners (in this case, teachers) better enable them to learn; this also may be termed personalized or differentiated learning environments.

Knowledge-centered. Learning environments that focus on discipline-specific content knowledge for teaching, rather than focusing on generic pedagogical approaches (i.e., cooperative learning groups). Learning opportunities should help teachers understand their subject matter more deeply and flexibly, including how to teach the particular subject matter well (which may involve learning about cooperative grouping strategies).

Community-centered. Learning environments that involve norms such as collaboration, learning, and inquiry also support teacher learning.

Assessment-centered. Learning environments that provide opportunities for teachers to test their understanding by trying out new approaches and receiving feedback to better enable teacher learning.

2. Lessons about Leadership

Low-performing schools receiving federal School Improvement Grants (SIGs) are likely to show improvement in more areas if the principal demonstrates elements of strategic leadership, according to a multi-year study led by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) on behalf of the Institute of Education Sciences. Strategic leaders are able to identify a school’s challenges, develop a theory of action and communicate a long-term vision for the school.

The Study of School Turnaround examined a diverse sample of 25 schools receiving SIGs from the first year of implementation, 2010-11 to 2012-13. Data were collected through on-site interviews and focus groups with teachers, principals and other school staff, as well as teacher surveys, fiscal records, and interviews with state SIG personnel. Mathematica Policy Research assisted in the study.

The 25 schools varied greatly with regard to their community and fiscal contexts, their performance and reform histories, and their interpretations of the causes of—and potential solutions for—their performance problems.

“As we visited SIG schools in the six states, we definitely saw a wide range of school characteristics,” said Dr. Kerstin Carlson Le Floch, a managing researcher at AIR. “There is a tendency to think of low-performing schools as large, urban high schools in neighborhoods with high crime rates, and while some SIG schools fit that profile, there are others in small towns and safe neighborhoods.”

Other notable findings include:

  • For most schools, respondents did not see SIG as the primary impetus for change strategies often because these schools had been engaged in improvement efforts prior to receiving SIG funds. In 19 schools, the improvement strategies and actions implemented during the first year were reportedly a continuation of activities or plans that predated the grant.
  • Approaches to leadership varied across case study schools with principals showing a mix of leadership qualities. The most commonly reported leadership approach was transformational leadership—principals who can develop leaders and motivate and engage their staff behind a strong organizational vision.
  • Seven of 25 case study schools had experienced a visible disruption from past practice. The activities that constituted a disruption from the past included replacing the principal, changing the school governance structure, changing the physical plant of the school, or making symbolic changes.
  • The size of the SIG award for each school varied greatly, from a five percent increase in per-pupil funds (over 2009-10 levels) to more than a 100 percent increase.
  • Respondents identified 11 improvement strategies and actions during this first year. The three most noted in the greatest number of schools were: increasing professional development activities, replacing the principal and increasing learning time, all three of which are required by SIG.
  • Respondents at 24 of the 25 core sample schools reported improvement in at least one area. The most common areas of perceived improvement were with regard to a safe and orderly climate, teacher collaboration, instructional practices, and quality of leadership.

Future reports will continue to track the progress of these schools, their improvement efforts, and the role of the SIG program.

To read the full report, visit

Upcoming Meetings & Events

School Improvement Professional Learning

Tuesday, Dec. 16th, 9am to Wednesday, Dec. 17th, 3:30pm

240 Coliseum Dr

Macon, GA

Team (Atlanta Based) Meetings

Thursday, Dec. 18th, 8-11:30am

240 Coliseum Dr

Macon, GA

Meetings for the Atlanta-based Teams (District Effectiveness, TAS, Professional Learning, Leads, and SIG)

Job-Alike Meetings

Thursday, Dec. 18th, 12am


If content Specialists are going to meet in December, they will meet at the time and location determined by each group of content Specialists: Leadership, Turnaround, Math, Literacy (Professional Learning Specialists will meet with Joann and Christy in Macon).

School Improvement Leadership Team (SILT)

Thursday, Dec. 18th, 12-4pm

240 Coliseum Dr

Macon, GA

Region Team Meetings

Friday, Jan. 16th 2015 at 12am


Start times and locations determined by Region Leads

RESA and GaDOE SIS Webinar

Friday, Jan. 16th 2015 at 10-11am

This is an online event.

Your School Improvement Leadership Team (SILT)


Paula Cleckler

Melba Fugitt

Bari Geeslin

Joel Standifer

Lyn Wenzel

Patty Rooks

RESA Director Representative:

Carolyn Williams/Rachel Spates/Peggy Stovall

Program Managers:

Joann Hooper

Paulette Richmond

Sam Taylor